Loving Someone with Mental Health Issues: A Letter to My Husband

loving someone with mental health issues

Since it’s Valentine’s Day, I thought it would be appropriate to talk about love. More specifically, loving someone that has mental health issues. I was going to write a whole post on how to love someone that has anxiety and depression but then I realized I had already written something similar (which you can read here.)  So instead, I’m going to write a blog post, or rather a letter, to my husband. He’s been learning to navigate my mental health issues just as much as I have and acknowledging that your loved ones are often impacted by your issues is pretty important I think!

It can be hard to really show your significant other how you appreciate them for all that they do when it comes to your mental health. So maybe, they’ll appreciate this letter. Without further ado, David, this letter is for you:

Dear David,

Thanks so much for sticking by my side through all the ups and downs of my depression and anxiety. I know it can be frustrating and scary at times. Please know that I appreciate all that you put up with. It’s overwhelming for both of us and very confusing for you. I see the pained expression on your face trying to figure out if it was something you did that caused my anxiety to act up. I watch you trying to come up with a way to fix it for me.

It’s sometimes really difficult to explain how I’m feeling to you knowing that you really can’t understand it. It can be really lonely and isolating. But the times when you just sit next to me and hold my hand, reminding me that although I’m fighting a battle you can’t see, you’re there to fight too. That’s really the best feeling ever!

I know sometimes you may feel angry or sad that I’m not acting like my “normal” self. I know you’ve watched my entire face drain of emotion and go blank when the depression sets in. I’m sure it can be really upsetting. I’m sure I’ve ruined a few dates and even entire weekends thanks to this and for that I’m really sorry. But still you love me and plan another amazing date for us knowing that it could happen again.

You’ve probably secretly Googled “what causes depression and anxiety” hoping to find some answers that may help you understand. Everything you find is probably not all that helpful to you and doesn’t get you any closer to understanding what’s going on inside my mind and body. That’s got to be frustrating for you! When you love someone, you want to do everything you can to make their life better. But for me, sweetheart, you can’t make my mental health issues go away. They’ll probably always be there. But as long as you’re there too, it makes living with it so much easier!

Having said all of that, I want you to know that your support and the time you spend listening to me explain how I feel makes everything so much easier. I feel like no matter what comes of my depression or anxiety that I’ll be able to live! And maybe even thrive! You and I are a good pair. And even though my mental health isn’t top notch, our world together is.

All my love,

Liz

How to Make Amends With Your Hometown

hometown at sunset

Hey guys! I really wanted to chat with you about a part of you that can both positively and negatively affect your mental health-  and that is going home. Back to your roots. Where it all began. For some of us it brings nothing but sweet memories, and for others- memories you’d rather forget. Our upbringing really determines so much of our adulthood and the things we struggle with. 

Two weekends ago I went home for my Mom’s birthday, and wow, it was such a wonderful time! I loved seeing my family, friends, and all the familiar spots I went to growing up in Southern Maryland. Places that will always be a part of me and places I’ll tell my grandkids about. But anyone’s hometown can drudge up things they’d rather now reconcile with and that’s what this blog is about.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or mental health expert. I love my hometown and appreciate the place my parents decided to raise me and my sister in. I recognize that not everyone had the great childhood I did and that’s who I’m talking to in this blog. 

Going Home for the First Time

Everyone has a place they call home. And everyone has a place they’d rather not visit again. For me, that place is Leonardtown High School. I’m totally okay with never walking those halls again. I was an outcast, awkward freshman, and a big nobody. No one was ever mean to me per se, but I prefer not to go back. I just felt out of my element. 

I visit my hometown a few times a year because my parents and sister still live there. And I’ll be honest and say I had a great childhood full of love and memories I’ll have until the day I die. But for some people, going home, especially for the first time, can be scary. If this is you, wanting to reconcile with your past, take a deep breath, this next step isn’t easy. 

Admit Your Feelings

This is so hard. ADMITTING what you’re feeling and being willing to accept it can be the hardest thing you’ll do on your visit home. It’s okay to feel scared, intimidated, worried, and a million other emotions. Admit to yourself how you feel and most importantly, why you have those feelings. Say it out loud. Let it sink in. Don’t hide it. Honesty with yourself is one of the most important parts of healing.

Reconcile with the Places that Hurt You

Obviously “places” can’t hurt you, but the people they house can. I remember being a kid in our church feeling absolutely hurt by people I thought were my friends. The church didn’t hurt me but the people did. Of course every time I drive by that church I turn away knowing that I had been hurt there.

Wherever that place is for you, sometimes reconciling with the structure in which the hurt occurred can be enough. I’m a believer that you leave your energy (whether positive or negative) everywhere you go. So go back to the place where the hurt occurred and replace the negative energy you left with your positive energy, knowing that you have grown so much as a person and won’t let a bad memory control your happiness!

Sometimes it feels impossible to forgive the people that hurt you. But let the tears flow and the energy release. When you’re ready, you’ll find the ability to forgive in your heart and spirit. Most importantly, you’ll move on.

You Don’t Have to Love It

Really though. You don’t have to love your hometown. Not everyone does and that’s okay. You don’t have to have fond memories of Christmases and Fourth of July’s. We don’t all have those happy memories. I have delightful memories of holidays spent at home but I’m one of the lucky few! 

It’s ok to say “yes, this is the place that I grew up, but it is not my home.” I love that Miranda Lambert song called “The House that Built Me.” I dread the day my parents sell my childhood home, it literally is the house that built me! But for some people they rather not revere the places that shaped them as people and that’s completely okay no matter what their reason. Their feelings are valid. Acknowledge the places that shaped you as a person, but don’t feel pressure to revere them.

Talk to Your Counselor

I hate going to the Internet for help so I always say talk to your counselor. Be honest about the things that have formed you as person. We all have a history. Talk with your counselor about the places and people that make up your earliest memories. A licensed professional will be able to create a personalized strategy that allows you to reconcile with your formative years and find a way to move on or feel better about the place you came from.

 

 

Photo by Monica Bourgeau on Unsplash

What to Expect for February Mental Health

bouquet effect

Who else is glad January is over? It’s one of those months that only exists because it has to. February is a little better in that it’s a month full of pink, chocolate, and a ground hog that may or may not see it’s shadow (but he’s the cutest thing ever!). None the less, it’s a month that can also drag on and on. Winter, although beautiful in it’s own right, is not my favorite season for mental health reasons. It’s just hard! Sunlight is hard to find, coats keep us concealed, and central heating gives us dry skin. I’ll pass. So what can we expect this month in terms of mental health? 

february mental health

Hope for the Coming Weeks

We’re almost half way through winter! Finally. In my opinion, winter starts as soon as Christmas ends. Christmas is really it’s own season. Right around the first week of February however, we start to feel hope! March is just around the corner! The birds will be singing, the earth is starting to wake up again, and Michael’s Craft Store is full of Easter greenery. There is hope indeed! 

Loneliness (Looking at You Valentine’s Day)

Ah, Valentine’s Day. The dreaded holiday of single people. I remember being single not so long ago and thinking the holiday was silly. Even as someone who’s married I still kind of think it is. And as an independent gal, I’ll buy my own flowers and chocolate if I want them! However, for many single people, it can be a really lonely time. It seems like everyone on social media is out on a date and you wonder when it’s going to be your turn. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, take yourself on a date or meet up with some friends. Get the wine and cheeseboard and treat yourself to some roses! I’ve always thought that before you can love someone else, you have to love yourself. 

Stretches of Depression

Even though we can FEEL spring coming, February can still be depressing. Many of us will probably experience a few stretches of depression throughout the month. These are most likely to occur during rainy or snowy weather thanks to the sun hiding behind the clouds. It’s important to go outside and get fresh air in your lungs and take vitamins! Meditation and keeping a journal can also help during this time. 

Seasonal Affective Disorder

Just like in January, this will still be something many people deal with well into February. S.A.D.  impacts mental health as well as physical health at times. The mind-body connection is real people! Since this disorder can be difficult to treat, it’s best to tell your doctor about the symptoms you’re experiencing to know what kind of treatment will be best for you. BUT know that you are not alone in the way you feel. Many, many people understand the feelings of sadness and exhaustion. 

Hibernation Mode

People, like some animals, often feel the need to hibernate this time of the year. The cold and wet conditions tell us we need to stay inside to thrive. Unfortunately, this usually leads to feelings of isolation and exhaustion. The more we stay inside and in bed, the more isolated and tired we feel. Have you ever slept for 11 hours straight? You usually feel like you can sleep even longer. That’s like hibernation, except in humans, it usually just ends in a splitting headache and feeling depressed. Get out of bed and be among people, even if you don’t want to. 

February isn’t always a fun month. But taking care of your mental health is the best way to get through it. My grandmom always used to say “it’s always brighter in the morning,” and the morning will come sooner than you think.

What’s the Difference Between Anxiety Attacks and Panic Attacks?

anxiety vs panic

This blog is a long time coming! I’ve used the terms “anxiety attack” and “panic attack” interchangeably for way too long and I imagine I’m not the only one!  They’re actually very different from one another and I thought it was time to shed some light on both of these very unique experiences so we can all be aware of what we’re actually saying.

I’ve definitely experienced anxiety attacks before but I was surprised to learn that I’ve likely never experience a panic attack. After doing a little research, I’ve learned about the differences and how to know what I’m actually experiencing. You can check my sources here and here.

Anxiety Attack Vs. Panic Attack

anxiety vs panic attack

I found the emotional differences absolutely fascinating! A lot of the physical symptoms like shortness of breath and dizziness made total sense. But the differences were significant when it came to the emotional experiences of both kinds of attacks. People that have panic attacks sometimes feel a detachment from their body, which kind of reminds me of what some people have reported when they have “died” and then came back to life.

This by no means is an extensive list of every single symptom you can experience, but this is a good comprehensive list of more common symptoms. Personally, when I have anxiety attacks, I get the desire to get up and run away. And keep running. I often cry and my mind races with thoughts I can’t control. I’ve had anxiety attacks while running on the treadmill, which has been incredibly interesting because for about 30 seconds I’ll be able to run at a much higher speed than I normally can. It’s insane what our minds and bodies can do!

What Causes a Panic Attack or Anxiety Attack?

Panic attacks that are expected often have identifiable causes, whereas unexpected attacks have no apparent causes. They just sort of happen.

Anxiety attacks often have identifiable causes as well. Causes for each of these attacks are usually:

  • Work or social stress
  • Driving (I experience this stress in Dallas every day!)
  • Caffeine
  • Withdrawal from alcohol or drugs
  • Experiencing trauma or witnessing trauma
  • Chronic health conditions
  • Anxious personality
  • Other mental health disorders
  • Various phobias
  • Medication

How Can We Cope?

I’m not sure if there’s any one way to cope with an attack. I think therapy can be a big help (it has been for me!) I’ve also found that accepting what is happening makes a huge difference. Fighting off an attack is exhausting! Deep breathing is also a big help as well as meditation. Journaling how you feel on a day-to-day basis may also help you stay in touch with how you feel and allow you to recognize thoughts that might be triggering to your attacks.

Bottom line: everyone is different with what they experience and how they cope. It may take some time to find the right combination of coping mechanisms. But know this: you are not alone in what you experience and your feelings are VALID.

 

Forget Fashion Blogging- Why I’m Transitioning to Mental Health Blogging Only

As you may have noticed lately, I’ve been talking a lot more about mental health and less about fashion. When I started Witty N Pretty way back in 2014, I had a completely different vision for it than what I have now, and as any good brand would do, I decided to reevaluate what it is I wanted my blog to be about. I ended up deciding that fashion wasn’t my thing any more and mental health was a topic that I wanted to focus on. Here’s why.

Mental Health Isn’t Talked About Enough

100 years ago, people that were chronically depressed were put in asylums or other institutions. No one understood the disease, or wanted to. It’s upsetting for me to think that if I had been born in a different era, I could have been one of those people locked away for no good reason.

In recent years, mental health has been talked about more and more… but we still have a long way to go! I want to dedicate my blog to something that can really make a difference. Spreading awareness, helping those who are trying to cope with anxiety or depression, and just sharing my experience are the topics I’m going to be focusing on.

I Can’t Write About Something I Don’t Love

Fashion was always something I was interested in, but I never loved it. I never had a passion for it (or a big budget to match!) I wanted so badly to be a successful blogger that got all of the brand deals, had a big following, and lived a glamorous lifestyle. Rachel Parcell was always my inspiration and what kept me dreaming big. But we all don’t follow the same path in life. I don’t love fashion like she does and that’s ok.

After years of trying to “make it” as a style blogger, I finally felt God’s gentle hand guiding me elsewhere. Ok, it was more like a big push and Him being like “can you listen for 5 seconds?! Do this instead!” So here I am, trying to listen and write about the what I love, which is mental health.

We All Need Someone Who “Gets It”

There’s nothing better than finding someone who totally understands what you’re going through and can commiserate. Sometimes we just need someone to talk to, and I want to be that person for other anxiety and depression sufferers.

I remember I was at a brunch with a bunch of other bloggers in the Dallas area. We all went around the table to introduce ourselves and one of the girls said she blogged about style and mental health because she deals with depression and anxiety. I about shot out of my seat I was so excited to know that at table filled with women who looked like they had it all together, there was at least one person who would understand me. Follow her Instagram here!

So with Witty N Pretty, I really hope this blog becomes a resources for other people that suffer from mental health problems. I am by no means a doctor and certainly can’t diagnose you, but I hope I can at least be someone others can talk to so they don’t feel alone.